The Wachowski Siblings (The Matrix) have made a new movie opening this Friday, an epic space opera called Jupiter Ascending. It has a major cast (Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, and current best bet for an Oscar, Eddie Redmayne). The movie cost a whopping $170 million to make. The trailer makes it look visually stunning.
As Vulture‘s Abraham Riesman points out, in an age of sequels and comic-book dross, the Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic is “the rare big-budget movie that’s wholly original and not just an adaptation or a sequel.” Riesman also makes the point that the film seems to hearken back to a more old-fashioned type of space adventure like Flash Gordon (read: it’s not somber or pretentious). So why is everyone expecting it to be a disaster?
I saw the trailer last year and it looked ridiculous. I couldn’t get past the sight of Channing Tatum as a sort of buff-looking Mr. Tumnuss.
But then again, I’m an asshole. Perhaps it’s a perfectly fine sci-fi adventure. It has some cool-looking visuals. Terry Gilliam is in it, so that’s one bright spot. The story sounds silly, but no sillier than anything else aimed at young teenagers. In fact, with a story about a seemingly ordinary person discovering that she is in fact the key to saving the universe, it’s very reminiscent of The Matrix,
Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
The movie was supposed to be one of last summer’s tent poles at the box office, but Warner Bros. delayed its release an unprecedented seven months, choosing to dump it in the cinematic wasteland of February. The delay was supposedly to allow for visual effects to be completed, but there were rumors of a serious amount of editing and reshaping of the film.
Last week there was a surprise premiere of it at – of all places – the Sundance Film Festival, a screening which was closed to critics (bad sign; there’s also a press embargo on reviews for the few who have seen it). The screening didn’t go well. As Variety reports, “the Wachowskis’ flair was fully on display, with sequences reminiscent of The Matrix or Star Wars. But when the film ended, the usually gracious Sundance audience didn’t clap at the closing credits.”
Will it be a flop with audiences when it opens? Is it too late to change the title to Uranus Descending? (at the very least, schoolboys would want to see it). The Wachowskis have not had a certified hit in many years. The only thing that we can predict is that Sean Bean will probably die in it.
A shorter version was published at 2paragraphs.com